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Tyres And Wheels

MOT checks for tyres and wheels on motorcycles are divided into just two sections. Please click one of the links below to skip to the section of interest.

tyres :: wheels


  • Tyres must be of suitable type and in good repair
  • Tyres must be seated correctly in their rims
  • Tyres must be fitted in accordance with direction indicators on the sidewall
  • All tyres must be either cross ply or radial, not a mixture
  • Tread must be clearly visible over the whole tread area
  • Tread must be at least 1mm deep throughout the circumference and 75% of the width of the tyre*

Other reasons for your tyres failing the motorcycle MOT test

  • It shows a cut longer than 25mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre that reaches the ply or cord
  • It shows a bulge, lump or tear caused by partial failure of its structure
  • It fouls another component of the motorcycle
  • Ply or cord is exposed
  • The valve is seriously damaged or misaligned
  • The tread has been recut

note: the VOSA manual states that the depth of tread is measured “…throughout a continuous circumferential band measuring at least three quarters of the breadth of the tread.” This excludes tie-bars, tread wear indicators and other features designed to “wear out substantially before the rest of the pattern and other minor features.”

*examples of unsuitable tyres: car tyres, motocross tyres, racing tyres, or any tyre stamped with ‘NHS’ or ‘not for highway use’. You must also fit tyres of the correct load and speed rating for the bike and rear tyres must not be used on the front wheel or vice versa.


Bikes with an engine capacity of 50cc or less only need to have clearly visible tread in a continuous band around the whole circumference of the tyre which covers at least 75% of the width without a break.

Metzeler ME22 tyres and the Aprilia AF 50

There’s an exception listed in the VOSA manual which states that a Metzeler 100/80 – 17 52s ME22 may be fitted to the rear wheel of an Aprilia AF 50 if it is put on the opposite way round to the direction indicators.


Reasons for your wheels failing the motorcycle MOT test

  • Inadequate repairs, corrosion, damage or fractures resulting in significant reduction of the wheels strength*
  • Missing, cracked, loose, bent or severely corroded spokes
  • Loose or missing bolts or rivets in built-up wheels
  • An excessively distorted or eccentric bead rim
  • Loose or missing wheel nuts, studs or bolts
  • Insecure wheels

note: the maximum allowable lateral run out or buckling is 4mm for steel rims and just 2mm for alloy. The maximum allowable eccentricity of any wheel is 3mm.

*wheel strength: the decision to fail a wheel due to a reduction in strength is at the motorcycle MOT test technician’s discretion as to whether they feel it is rendered unsafe or not.

32 questions on "Tyres And Wheels"

  1. Ted says:

    Hi, why are car tyres ‘unsuitable’ when fitted to the rear of large cruiser type bikes, if they have a directional tread pattern and in good condition they should pass surely, is it an individual consideration for the tester or law?

    1. fasttrack says:

      Hello Ted,
      This is what VOSA quote:
      Examples of unsuitable tyres:
      side car tyres or car tyres on a solo machine (note side car outfits may be fitted with ‘solo’ type tyres on any wheel)

      You can on fit motorcycle type fitment tyres to a motorcycle.

  2. Paul markham says:

    I have been told by a bike dealer, they fail tyres if they are dated over 10 years old no matter condition tread depth etc. .is this correct?

    1. fasttrack says:

      Hi Paul,
      The VOSA handbook doesn’t say anything about the age of tyres being an MOT fail. As long as the correct tyres are fitted, they have the correct tread depth and are in good condition then they should pass.

  3. bob craven says:

    Little mention has been made of the tyre valve. My MOT testing station always gives an advisory because the valve which has a rubber component is wearing by vibration and could i presume break up. Not damaged as some would understand by collision etc.His advice is that they should changed every tyre change or replaced by solid metal ones.
    Whats you take on that and if considered dangerous why is there no advice regarding this matter

    About tread depth we are advised to change the tyre at 2ml tred depth but what is the new tread depth of a new tyre,front and back. If its only 4ml front then the tyre basically has little life right from the start. they are not inexpensive. I can get a set of 4 new tyres with 9ml depth for my car at the same price as two new motorcycle tyres anth the car ones last 4/5 times longer.

    Why is that.

    1. fasttrack says:

      We change the valves every time we change a tyre, and the rubber ones could fail your MOT as the rubber perishes. And new tyres generally come with 6mm tread, the legal limit is 1.5mm. Car tyres last longer than motorcycles ones because motorcycle tyres need to be softer to give you grip.

  4. adrian ward says:

    i have a large cutsom bike and need to fit a rear tyre to the front wheel, for the mot.
    seeings as it will have to be fitted in reverse, for the tread to be correct and dissipate the water in the correct manner under breaking, will this affect the mot?

    1. admin says:

      Put simply, yes. Tyres have to be fitted in the correct rotation.

  5. C.McG says:

    Hi, I’ve got a 170 tyre fitted on a 160 back wheel will this be a problem at MOT?

    1. admin says:

      As long as it doesn’t massively warp the profile of the tyre it should be fine.

  6. Hi if I have two different makes of wheels one alloy and the back one spokes would this be an mot failure for my motorbike tyres ect new on them . Thanks

    1. fasttrack says:

      No that is perfectly acceptable 🙂

  7. Mike Redmond says:

    Hi my back tyre wheel is wider than the front so what will happen with parallel regarding the wheels have to be level as the front wheel is thinner. Re mot

    1. fasttrack says:

      That is fine so long as they are both on the same centre line, this is very common.

  8. Jake says:

    Hi, I’ve just bought a bike recently which has new MOT as of start of this month. The rear tyre however has what appears to be small cracks around the tyre rim and makes me concerned about the validity of the MOT. Should I be concerned about this? Or should the MOT garage have picked this up and failed it?

    1. admin says:

      A tyre is an MOT fail if there are cuts in excess of 25mm long or you can see cord through the rubber… Lots of tiny splits might warrant an advisory but aren’t an automatic fail.

  9. Ray Newberry says:

    I recently had a puncture in my rear tyre while on my way to a meeting in Plymouth. I got picked up by the AA and they took me to a local bike shop. I had a replacement tyre fitted but the only one available was a Michellin Pilot Road 4. On the front I have an almost new Bridgestone 021.
    My MOT is up shortly will this be a problem both tyres are of the correct profile for the bike. (Triumph Sprint GT).

    1. admin says:

      Hi Ray. Only the condition of the tyres matters for an MOT, not the make. Two different tyres is not a reason to fail.

  10. Mike Jennings says:

    Hello, I’m restoring a bike which uses 16″ wheels. Is it suitable to use a 160/60-16 on the back and a 130/70-16 on the front, or will the different profiles cause the bike to fail an M.O.T.?

    1. fasttrack says:

      Hiya, the different profiles won’t be a reason for failure. FTMC

  11. cai lawson says:

    Hi, At some point my bike has had the chain or maybe the centre stand ( I had to fix this as it was only pinned on one side and useless) has chewed the side nobly bit on my tire. It has not hit the side wall and I dont THINK that the performance has been effected. Do you know how this sits with the MOT please? The bike is a huoniao hn125/8 if that helps with the wheel view. Also about an inch of the end of the front break lever is missing. I have filed the sharp bits and taped the end so its no danger

    1. fasttrack says:

      Hi there, without seeing it, it would be difficult to say. However by the way you are describing it , it sounds o.k. There would need to be damage deep enough to expose the inner tyre structure. Proving the lever is easily accessible with at least three fingers then that also should be ok. FTMC

  12. Christine Doyle says:

    I have an imperial 3.00 x 17 tyre on the front and a metric 90/90 x 17 on the rear. Would there be any problems on the MOT, can you mix metric and imperial? thank you

    1. fasttrack says:

      Hi there, the difference between imperial and metric does not matter as any imperial measurement can be converted to metric and vise-versa. FTMC

  13. Oly says:

    Hi There,

    I’ve got a ktm 300 exc which is fully road registered but I now need to get it re-mot’d since fitting tyres stamped “not for road use”. I know your guide says this will fail the MOT but without moral arguments can an MOT garage fail me for having it smudged out with a soldering iron. It would be pretty obvious but not readable the tyres meet all other requirements such as tread depth. The front tyre also is a perfectly legal one.

    It seems like too good a tyre to throw away

    1. fasttrack says:

      Haha, ummm ok legal requirements aside, as with the same wording on exhaust systems, if it is covered up or removed then it can not be failed… FOR THAT REASON…. there are however other checks to be done that could cause the tyre to fail. i will list these for you and we have had a recent “special notice” regarding off road tyres so i will include that at the end too.

      Examples of unsuitable tyres
      b. Motocross or similar tyres i.e tyres where the space between tread blocks is substantially greater than the size of the blocks themselves: which do not have MST (multi service tyre) with an “E” in a circle or an “E” moulded into or on the tyre wall.

      The special notice has lots of blurb not relevant to this so I’ll just mention the important bits

      SN Item 2.
      ………..Similarly if a tyre is permanently marked with the letters JIS (Japanese Industry Standard) or DOE (American Standard) then the tyre is also approved for road use. These tyres may not necessarily be marked MST. Therefore the appropriate reason for rejection does not apply to these tyres providing they permanently display on a sidewall any of the approval markings mentioned above.

      Now im not going to give you this free info without at least 1 teeny tiny moral argument, and that is the fact that these tyres are unsuitable for the road for a reason. Part of the reason for the failure on the spacing between the blocks is these tyres will tear themselves apart when used on tarmac on a regular basis not to mention no grip in wet conditions at all. That is all 🙂 hope this helps FTMC

  14. Alexie says:

    Thanks for this. My rear tyre has a cut across that’s just about 15mm but maybe 2 or 3mm deep This should be ok as it’s on the tread it’self which is about 5mm deep.

    1. fasttrack says:

      I couldn’t say yes or no for sure without seeing it but by the way you have described it, it should be ok. FTMC

  15. smith says:

    why on a motorcycle mot is the tyre size take and imputed on the vosa mot computer ? big brother perchance

    1. fasttrack says:

      HI there! The tyre sizes are not inputted on the computer. It sounds like your getting confused with the brake force and associated readings. The weight (kgs) of the front and back wheel are taken separately and then the testers weight too. This is then put through a calculation with a reading taken from the brake tester to give an efficiency percentage. Hope that eliminates any worries you have of the government spying on our tyres! FTMC

  16. daniel melia says:

    i am just wondering if my bike will pass its m.o.t with a slit tyre on the back and a road legal nobbly on the front?

    thanks daniel

    1. admin says:

      As long as both tyres are road legal it makes no difference what tread pattern you decide to use. Cheers, FTMC

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